Desertification and Drought Day, until this year known as The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, is observed every year to promote awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.
Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations.
To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change. Desertification and Drought Day, running under the slogan “Food. Feed. Fibre.” seeks to educate individuals on how to reduce their personal impact. Plants and animals provide most of our food, clothing and footwear. This means that food, feed (animal) and fibre (for clothing) all compete for arable land. Demand is growing due to population growth and increasing global middle classes.
Changes in diet and behaviours, such as cutting food waste, buying from local markets and swapping clothes instead of always buying new, can free up land for other uses and lower carbon emissions. Dietary change alone can free up between 80 and 240 million hectares of land.
Did you know:
- One-third of all food produced each year is lost or wasted, while 821 million people are undernourished. This is equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes of food with a footprint of 1.4 billion hectares, close to 30% of the world’s agricultural land area. This represents a surface larger than Canada and India together.
- According to the World Health Organization, approximately 50 litres of water per person per day is needed to ensure that most basic needs are met while keeping public health risks at a low level. Almost fifty percent of people drinking water from unprotected sources, live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- 600 million of the world's poorest households keep livestock as an essential source of income.
- Livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources, with pasture and arable land dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of the total agricultural land. One-third of global arable land is used to grow feed, while 26% of the Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface is used for grazing.
- 20,000 liters of water - The amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton; equivalent to a single t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
- By 2030, it is predicted that the fashion industry will use 35% more land for cotton, forest for cellulosic fibres, and grassland for livestock—altogether over 115 million hectares that could be used to grow crops for an increasing and more demanding population or to preserve forest. Fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water - enough to meet the consumption needs of 5 million people.
“If we keep producing and consuming as usual, we will eat into the planet’s capacity to sustain life until there is nothing left but scraps. We all need to make better choices about what we eat and what we wear to help protect and restore the land.” Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.